Cereus Blooms at Night: 10/11/07
Cereus Blooms at Night is one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I've read this year. I wish I had finished it before the BTT question last week about obscenity in literature because it makes a good argument for when explicit scenes are needed in a book to tell a story.
Shani Mootoo wastes no words in Cereus Blooms at Night. Everything has a meaning and often more than one. The cereus of the title both refer to the cactus that grows in Mala's yard and to Mala's brief moment of true happiness before her life utterly falls apart.
The island of Lantacamara is named for a flower that now thrives throughout the world and is a popular garden flower for its hardy nature and appeal to butterflies (mariposa being Spanish slang for gays). As Otoh's mother explains: "every village in this place have a handful of people life you. And it is not easy to tell who is who." (page 238)
In the middle of all of this is Miss Ramchandin, a frail old woman accused of murder and dumped in the care of a charity nursing home. It is through the friendship of Tyler, one of Lantacamara's many butterflies, that Miss Ramchandin can finally tell her story.
Go read Cereus Blooms at Night and listen to Miss Ramchandin's story as it unfolds. Be prepared for strong themes and a harsh frankness but it is worth the discomfort.
Sounds like a good book. Very nice review, Pussreboots."